Top Public Administration Degree Programs - Kansas City, MO

Kansas City has few schools with programs in public administration. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings, and tuition info.

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School and Ranking Information

Students looking for public administration programs in the Kansas City, Missouri, area have about seven options, but the following three universities are top choices due to their discipline-specific national rankings and comprehensive program offerings.

  • Winner: The University of Kansas (KU) earns the top spot due to its ranking among the top 55 public schools by U.S. News & World Report and top ten public affairs graduate programs. The school offers bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration.
  • Runner-Up #1: The University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) was ranked among the nation's top 100 public schools in 2013, and its graduate public affairs department was listed among the top 75 nationwide in 2012, also by U.S. News & World Report. The school takes second place since it only offers graduate-level degrees and certificates in public administration.
  • Runner-Up #2: Park University also has nationally ranked graduate programs in public administration as well as an undergraduate program and a variety of graduate certificate programs in areas such as government leadership, healthcare management, and emergency management.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Kansas - Edwards Campus University of Missouri - Kansas City Park University
Rankings 106th national university ranking in 2013*
51st in Top Public Schools nationwide in 2013*
Graduate public affairs department rated 9th in the country in 2012*
100th in Top Public Schools in the nation in 2013*
Rated 73rd nationwide for graduate public affairs programs in 2012*
Graduate public affairs department rated 149th in the country in 2012*
Location Overland Park, KS (19.4 miles from Kansas City) Kansas City, MO Kansas City, MO
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition and Fees (2012-2013) $377.85 per credit (undergraduate, in-state or KC metro resident)
$805.95 per credit (undergraduate, out-of-state)
$441 per credit (graduate, in-state or KC metro resident)
$882.75 per credit (graduate, out-of-state)***
$6,935 per year (graduate, in-state)
$16,380 per year (graduate, out-of-state)**
$9,788 per year (undergraduate)
$8,640 per year (graduate)**
Public Administration Program Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees Master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates Bachelor's and master's degrees; graduate certificates
Public Administration Certificates and Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 50 (at entire school, including main campus)** 67** 70**
Most Popular Public Administration Degree Level in 2011-2012 Master's degree (35 awarded at entire school, including main campus)** Master's degree (67 awarded)** Master's degree (53 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Entering Class 61% (for entire school, including main campus)** 43%** 39%**
Noteworthy Residents of Kansas City metro area receive in-state tuition rates Interdisciplinary PhD program allows students to develop unique program of study and research across disciplines Offers five specialized graduate certificate programs in public administration areas

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***University of Kansas - Edwards Campus.

Winner: University of Kansas - Edwards Campus

  • Public management administration graduate program specialty ranked #5 in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2012
  • Nation's best graduate specialty in city management and urban policy since 1998, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Recent graduates of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program work in director positions at the state governor's office, Kansas National Education Association, and KU administrative departments
  • KU main campus about 30 miles from Kansas City offers a doctoral program in public administration

The Edwards Campus of KU houses bachelor's and master's degree programs in public administration. The undergraduate program is formulated for students who already hold an associate degree and incorporates coursework in such subjects as civil society concepts, crime and punishment, ethics, and diversity in public administration. The Master of Public Administration program comprises tracks in public service leadership and city and county leadership. The public service leadership concentration is oriented toward students who have professional public administrative experience and includes study in public management and the law, public service financing, and resource control.

In the city and county leadership specialization, students choose either the intern option, which is recommended for those without professional experience and involves a year-long professional internship, or the career option, which takes place on a part-time basis for students who are employed full-time. MPA program electives are available on topics like organizational change and innovation, public and nonprofit financial management, information technology management, and public administration theory.

Runner-Up #1: University of Missouri - Kansas City

  • Graduate public affairs nonprofit management specialization rated 15th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2012
  • Offers dual degree Bachelor of Business Administration/MPA, Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs/MPA, and Juris Doctor/MPA programs
  • Executive MPA program includes external residency opportunities in South Africa and Washington, DC

The MPA program at UMKC encompasses core study in public service leadership, managerial economics, financial accountability, and administrative politics, with concentrations available in nonprofit management, health services administration, and urban administration. In addition, the university houses an Executive MPA program that can be completed in just under two years and is open to students with a minimum of five years of relevant professional experience.

UMKC's research-oriented Interdisciplinary PhD (IPhD) program in public affairs and administration retains more than a dozen faculty members and requires coursework in public management, leadership, research methods, and public policy analysis. To graduate, IPhD candidates must complete a dissertation and related empirical study. UMKC also offers two 18-credit graduate certificate programs in urban policy and administration and nonprofit management and innovation.

Runner-Up #2: Park University

  • Undergraduate public administration program encompasses five distinct specialty tracks
  • Master of Public Affairs program includes opportunities for program-focused international study
  • Rated among top 110 Midwest universities in U.S. News & World Report's 2013 rankings

Park University's public administration programs take place at the School of Public Affairs, which is located at the university's Kansas City-based campus. The Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) curriculum encapsulates concentrations in public service, criminal justice, homeland security, business relations, and fire service management. All BPA students complete foundational courses in public personnel administration, public service values, statistics, and administrative law.

Students in the Master of Public Affairs program choose from emphases in disaster and emergency management; business, government, and global society; public management; and nonprofit and community services management. Regardless of concentration, master's degree candidates receive instruction in subjects such as public affairs methodology, research, and the ethics of authority. In addition, public affairs students undergo comprehensive oral and written exams, usually during their final semester, to complete the program.

The specialized graduate certificate programs at Park University comprise 12-14 credit hours and are offered in nonprofit leadership, healthcare/health services management and leadership, business and government leadership, leadership of international healthcare organizations, and disaster and emergency management.

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